• Carol Campbell

Tolerably Well for an Old Man.

My room was all the way down the hall from the dining room. I would set out at 7 am to wheel my way up that hall and believe you me it was an uphill hallway. I was grateful for that though, because I was working very hard at strengthening my body. I would greet each person along the way whether they could acknowledge me or not because I know that our souls hear and respond to love no matter what our bodies or minds are doing. There was one gentleman who would respond to my daily greeting of best wishes for the morning and a query as to how he was in the very same manner everyday by replying, "Good Morning! I am doing tolerably well for an old man.". I would respond in kind. He made me smile. His son told me that he had been on the service, was an engineer and loved his Lord with all his heart. The stroke had not diminished that in the slightest. Singing hymns and gospel songs in the hall, in the dining room, in the shower in a very booming voice was his common practice.

The stroke had changed him in many ways. Having no volume moderation sense, he always yelled. Everything was loud. This was quite annoying but he truly could not help it. Being an active man, he could not accept that he was confined to a chair and a bed so he would always try to get up. Being a hulking kind of man made his care challenging for the overworked and under paid techs. They were tested day and night as Sundowners set in and he began to sleep very little. I sincerely understand that and the system is very broken but that is their job. It is their responsibility to ensure his safety which can be impossible at times with 40 patients and two techs. The system must change for the sake of the patients but also for the workers.

This is a part of my friends story. I remember one night when I awakened to a personal alarm going off repeatedly. These alarms are there to deter the person from trying to get up but also to alert staff that someone is in the process of standing. It sounded for about 15 minutes so I put on my call light to try to get their attention in another way. The nurse happened to be right outside my door on her way to serve my roommate's feeding tube. When she opened the door, I asked her if the alarm was malfunctioning. This annoyed her. As I said, I understand the stress that these people work under but I had to ask. She turned her head towards the sound and yelled out to the tech to get him. It was my friend and he fell right then. BOOM! It literally shook the floor. He busted his head and was rushed to the hospital. This fall took his life in a matter of months as it induced another stroke and some continuing mini strokes began take over in his body. Why did the nurse or the tech ignore him? Were they cold-hearted? I believe it is because the priority for the nurses is to get the medicine to 40 (in this case) patients within a window of time set by either the administration or by the state. 1 nurse to 40 elderly and ill patients. I think that under that kind of pressure, we patients become numbers, and med names and our humanity is lost in the turmoil created by not having enough staff. For the tech, all I can say is that the humanity of a patient gets lost if a tech no longer protects the dignity of their patient. They begin to see us as chunks of meat that they have to maneuver and that takes away our personhood, the essence of who we are, the soul.

I was there when my friend passed and I am thankful for that experience. In an upcoming post I will share those moments with you but until then, please seek out advocacy for your family members that may be in a facility. My friends family never knew what really happened. Believe me, it was covered up. Of course they knew he fell but not the circumstances. I reported it to the admins and they told me that it was only my recollection and that they didn't know what really happened. Later I heard a manager in the hall with the nurse from that night and she was telling her that her butt was covered. Very sad.

If you ever need our services with this type of thing, call or write. There are ways to investigate these kinds of falls.


Murfreesboro, TN, USA

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